Southwestern Indiana's Catholic Community Newspaper

Pope: True Faith Means Loving Others To The Extreme

Pope Francis greets children dressed as pharaohs and in traditional dress as he arrives to celebrate Mass on April 29 at the Air Defense Stadium in Cairo. CNS photo/L'Osservatore Romano

CAIRO (CNS) – The only kind of fanaticism that is acceptable to God is being fanatical about loving and helping others, Pope Francis said on the final day of his apostolic visit to Egypt.

    After spending the first day of his visit in meetings with Muslim leaders, government officials, diplomats and members of the Coptic Orthodox Church, the pope dedicated the second day of his trip to Egypt's minority Catholic community.

    Arriving for Mass at the stadium in a blue Fiat, the pope was slowly driven around the venue’s red running track in a golf cart. Yellow balloons and a long chain of blue balloons tied together like a rosary were released into the sky as a military helicopter circled high above the venue.

    Surrounded by security, the pope managed to personally greet only one small group of children who were dressed as pharaohs and other traditional figures. They hugged the pope affectionately as security tightly closed in on the group.

    In his homily, the pope used the day's Gospel reading of the two disciples' journey to Emmaus to highlight how easy it is to feel disappointment, despair and defeat when one is trapped by a false notion of who God really is.

    "How often do we paralyze ourselves by refusing to transcend our own ideas about God, a god created in the image and likeness of man," he said. "How often do we despair by refusing to believe that God's omnipotence is not one of power and authority, but rather of love, forgiveness and life?

    "We cannot encounter God without first crucifying our narrow notions of a god who reflects only our own understanding of omnipotence and power," the pope said.

    "God is pleased only by a faith that is proclaimed by our lives, for the only fanaticism believers can have is that of charity. Any other fanaticism does not come from God and is not pleasing to him."

    Later in the day, before his departure for Rome, the pope met with about 1,500 priests, seminarians and religious men and women for a prayer service on the sports field of a Coptic Catholic seminary in Cairo.

    He thanked the church workers for their witness and for the good they do in the midst of "many challenges and often few consolations.

    "The more we are rooted in Christ, the more we are alive and fruitful," he said, and the more they will experience "renewed excitement and gratitude in our life with God and in our mission."